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McDonald’s Pay with Lovin’ Promotion

  McDonald’s unveiled a new promotion at the Super Bowl whereby random customers entering each of their restaurants will be selected to have their meal on the house if they demonstrate a bit of “lovin'” such as by hugging their kids, calling their mother to say I love you, doing a dance, etc.


The official rules state exactly how the promotion works. Each day at the predetermined time, the first customer to enter through a designated door, will be an unofficial winner. After they place their order, they will be approached by a manager who will tell them their order is free if they perform a particular lovin’ act.

As with any sweepstakes where money might change hands, the first rule is always “no purchase necessary.” This is because most sweepstakes are played in the context of a purchase (such getting a Monopoly game piece affixed to drink cups at McDonald’s). So game promoters are required to tell customers how to play the game free such as just by asking for a game piece, or by submitting a request for one by mail.

Paying a price for the chance of a prize is the definition of a lottery, which only the state and charitable organizations are allowed to operate. So how does McDonald’s present the “no purchase necessary” entry rules for this promotion?


The unofficial winner will be notified by the Lovin’ Lead that they are an unofficial winner after placing an order at the counter [emphasis added] or if the unofficial winner begins to leave the restaurant without placing an order at the counter. Participants do not need to make a McDonald’s purchase of any kind to be deemed an unofficial or official winner.

That is certainly a little bit awkward for the person not intending to make a purchase. So to play without paying, you have to go up to the counter, and loiter a little, or place a really big order (since it will be free if you win) but then tell the cashier you were just kidding, and begin to walk out?

From a practical standpoint what non-purchaser is going to go through this ridiculous charade for a chance at a prize? No, not even MrConsumer.

This is a fun and imaginative promotion. And it certainly is understandable why they don’t want to tell a customer when they first walk in that they have won for fear the customer will place an order for dozens of free meals. But McDonald’s really should be offering a more practical no purchase necessary method for playing the game.

Oh, incidentally, just by walking into the store, you have pre-agreed to resolve any disputes by arbitration. What, you didn’t go online before ordering your Big Mac to learn this? And some would (rightfully) say that this part of the rules is more troublesome and surprising than the no purchase necessary part.

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12 thoughts on “McDonald’s Pay with Lovin’ Promotion”

  1. Seems like McDonald’s could easily solve this by placing an upper limit on the “free” part of the order and informing the customer when they arrive. I guess $10 credit isn’t as appealing as free though.

  2. “Unofficial” winner. If THAT doesn’t smell like…well…then play their silly game if you’re so inclined to waste your time.

  3. Well, there are those who simply come in to use the restroom and don’t purchase anything. Perhaps, this is what they mean when they wrote in the rules “or if the unofficial winner begins to leave the restaurant without placing an order at the counter.”

    Edgar replies: Tim, you are absolutely correct. If someone comes in to use the restroom only, they will be watched if they were the person who walked in at the winning moment, and should they then head for the exit, they will be stopped by the manager and asked to perform an act of lovin’.

  4. Who really cares here. This is a nice promotion, so what if some people may not even “win” anything or some may win a lot.

  5. So… what do they win if they didn’t purchase anything? Isn’t it that their purchase is free?

    Edgar replies: I believe the rules says the non-purchasers get two value meals free.

  6. I won the very first day of the promotion. All I had to do was take a selfie with the store manager.

    Edgar replies: I hope your ordered consisted of 20 meals!

  7. There are quite a few people that come to the McDonalds in this town that don’t order anything. They simply sit in the booths using the free WiFi and plugging their laptops into the outlet, then leave, while others are looking for a place to park their trays. I had wondered if the promotion wasn’t to “guilt” them into buying something/anything with the no purchase needed Idea.?

  8. Wow. I’m sure glad I read about this here! I was quite unaware of any such promotion. It would be all kinds of awkward to walk into a McD’s and face this cold. “You want me to what? Listen, I just want to eat and get to the bank before my lunch hour is over.”

  9. It’s a shame that a promotion intended to get people to show more care affection for others ends up being criticized for the fine print. I’m sad to say that my first thought on seeing this ad during the Superb Owl was, “how many people are going to b*tch about the fine print on this one?” Sadly, MrConsumer jumped in on the action…

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